The Role of Culture on Online Search Behaviour: A Comparative Study Between British and Chinese Travellers

Conference paper


This study explores the role of culture and its impacts on travellers’ online information search behaviour. The study is focused on two culturally diametric countries: United Kingdom and China (Hofstede, Psychology and Culture, 2(1), 2011) and they have been selected as case studies, representing values from the Western and the Asian cultures. The research adopted a qualitative approach, and data was collected through interviews in order to enhance the understanding on the subject studied. Findings indicate that culture influences considerably the travellers’ behaviour in the online environment, and as a result of this influence, different behavioural patterns between the British and the Chinese travellers emerged. Conclusions discuss the implications for marketers aiming at the British and the Chinese tourists, and they highlight the need to adopt different strategies in designing and promoting their tourism products for these two particular markets.


Online search behaviour Culture e-Tourism Online decision making 


  1. Bieger, T., & Laesser, C. (2004). Information sources for travel decisions: Toward a source process model. Journal of Travel Research, 42(4), 357–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bolton, K., & Graddol, D. (2012). English in China today. English Today, 28(3), 3–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Buhalis, D., & Law, R. (2008). Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the Internet – the state of etourism research. Tourism Management, 29(4), 609–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buhalis, D., & Michopoulou, E. (2011). Information enabled tourism destination marketing: Addressing the accessibility market. Current Issues in Tourism, 14(2), 145–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, J. S., & Gursoy, D. (2001). An investigation of tourists’ destination loyalty and preferences. The International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 13(2), 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, J., Johnson, C., & Gherissi-Labben, T. (2013). Cross-cultural examination of decision elements: Youth tourism in Switzerland. Anatolia, 24(2), 162–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). (2014). Statistical report on Internet Development in China [Online]. Available at:
  8. Cisco. (2014). Cisco connected World Technology Report [Online]. Available at:
  9. Crouch, D., & Desforges, L. (2003). The sensuous in the tourist encounter. Tourist Studies, 3(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cyr, D., Head, M., Larios, H., & Pan, B. (2009). Exploring human images in website design: A multi-method approach. MIS Quarterly, 33(3), 539–566.Google Scholar
  11. Doong, H., Law, R., & Wang, H. (2009). An initial investigation of integrating innovation diffusion models for drawing first-time visitors. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 26(1), 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Engel, J., Blackwell, R., & Miniard, P. (1995). Consumer behaviour (8th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Dryden.Google Scholar
  13. Fesenmaier, D. R., Cook, S., Sheatsley, D., & Patkose, M. (2009). Travellers’ use of the Internet: 2009 Edition (p. 70). Washington, DC: Travel Industry Association.Google Scholar
  14. Fodness, D., & Murray, B. (1999). A model of tourist information search behaviour. Journal of Travel Research, 37(2), 220–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gefen, D., & Heart, T. (2006). On the need to include national culture as a central issue in e-commerce trust beliefs. Journal of Global Information Management, 14(4), 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gretzel, U., Fesenmaier, D. R., & O’Leary, J. T. (2006). The transformation of consumer behaviour. In D. Buhalis & C. Costa (Eds.), Tourism business frontiers: Consumers, products and industry (pp. 9–18). Oxford: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gursoy, D. (2003). Prior product knowledge and its influence on the traveller’s information search behaviour. Journal of Hospitality and Leisure Marketing, 10(3/4), 113–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gursoy, D., & Chi, C. G. (2008). Travellers’ information search behaviour. In H. Oh & A. Pizam (Eds.), Handbook of hospitality marketing management (pp. 266–295). Oxford: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  19. Gursoy, D., & McCleary, K. W. (2004). An integrative model of tourist’s information search behaviour. Annals of Tourism Research, 31(2), 353–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gursoy, D., & Umbreit, W. T. (2004). Tourist information search behaviour: Cross-cultural comparison of European Union Member States. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 23(1), 55–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hall, R. M. (1976). Beyond culture. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  22. Hall, R. M. (1990). Understanding cultural difference. Boston, MA: Intercultural Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  24. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviours, institutions, and organizations across nations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  25. Hofstede, G. (2010). The GLOBE debate: Back to relevance. Journal of International Business Studies, 41, 1339–1346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1) [Online]. doi: 10.9707/2307-0919.1014 (Accessed 15 April 2015).
  27. Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G. J. (2005). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  28. Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind: Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  29. International Relations and Security Network (ISN). (2012). China, corporations and Internet censorship [Online]. Available at (Accessed 11 March 2015).
  30. Internet World Stats. (2015). Available at:
  31. Iresearch. (2012). A research report on the Chinese online travellers’ behaviours in 2012. [Online]. Available at (Accessed 17 January 2015).
  32. Itim International. (2015a). National culture [Online]. Available at (Accessed 15 March 2015).
  33. Itim International. (2015b). What about China? [Online]. Available at (Accessed 20 April 2015).
  34. Itim International. (2015c). What about the UK? [Online]. Available at (Accessed 20 April 2015).
  35. Jordan, E. J., Norman, W. C., & Vogt, C. A. (2012). A cross-cultural comparison for online travel information search behaviours. Tourism Management Perspectives, 6(1), 15–22.Google Scholar
  36. Keegan, W., & Schlegelmilch, B. (2001). Global marketing management (6th ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  37. Kim, E., Mattila, A. S., & Baloglu, S. (2011). Effects of gender and expertise on consumers’ motivation to read online hotel reviews. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 52(4), 399–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kralisch, A., Eisend, M., & Berendt, B. (2005). Impact of culture of Website navigation behaviour. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 22–27), Las Vegas, July. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  39. Krawczyk, K. (2015, July 3). Google is easily the most popular search engine, but have you heard who’s in second? Digital Trends [Online]. Available at (Accessed: 22 April 2015).
  40. Li, N., & Kirkup, G. (2007). Gender and cultural differences in Internet use: A study of China and the UK. Computers in Education, 48(2), 301–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Litvin, S. W., Goldsmith, R. E., & Pan, B. (2008). Electronic word-of-mouth in hospitality and tourism management. Tourism Management, 29(2), 458–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mack, N., Woodsong, C., MacQueen, K. M., Guest, G., & Namey, E. (2005). Qualitative research methods: A data collector’s field guide. Durham, NC: Family Health International.Google Scholar
  43. Marcos, M. C., Garcia-Gavilanes, R., Bataineh, E., & Pasarin, L. (2013). Cultural differences on seeking information: An eye tracking study [Online]. Available at (Accessed 28 April 2015).
  44. Nielsen, J. (2014). Millennials: Much deeper than their Facebook pages [Online]. Available at (Accessed 6 December 2014).
  45. Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2014). Internet access – Households and individuals 2014 [Online]. Available at (Accessed 5 March 2015).
  46. Okazaki, S., & Hirose, M. (2009). Does gender affect media choice in travel information search? On the use of mobile Internet. Tourism Management, 30(6), 794–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Park, C., & Jun, J.-K. (2003). A cross-cultural comparison of Internet buying behaviour: Effects of Internet usage, perceived risks, and innovativeness. International Marketing Review, 20(5), 534–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Peng, H., Xu, X., & Chen, W. (2013). Tourist behaviours in online booking: A new research agenda. Communications in Information Science and Management Engineering, 3(6), 280–285.Google Scholar
  49. SE1 Media Ltd. (2015). Key trends in online customer behaviour: Experience driven content strategies [Online]. Available at (Accessed 25 January 2015).
  50. Sondergaard, M. (1990). Hofstede’s consequences: A study of reviews, citations and replications. Organization Studies, 15(3), 447–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Srite, M., Thatcher, J. B., & Galy, E. (2008). Does within-culture variation matter? An empirical study of computer usage. Journal of Global Information Management, 16(1), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stamboulis, Y., & Skayannis, P. (2003). Innovation strategies and technology for experience-based tourism. Tourism Management, 24(1), 35–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Steinbauer, A., & Werthner, H. (2007). Consumer behaviour in e-Tourism. In M. Sigala, L. Mich, & J. Murphy (Eds.), Information and communication technologies in tourism 2007 (pp. 65–76). Vienna: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thakran, K., & Verma, R. (2013). The emergence of hybrid online distribution channels in travel, tourism and hospitality. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 54(3), 240–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Topi, H., & Tucker, A. (Eds.). (2014). Computing handbook: Information systems and information technology (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  56. Verma, R., Stock, D., & McCarthy, L. (2012). Customer preferences for online, social media, and mobile innovations in the hospitality Industry. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 53(2), 183–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vyncke, F., & Brengman, M. (2010). Are culturally congruent websites more effective? An overview of a decade of empirical evidence. Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 11, 14–29.Google Scholar
  58. Wei, R., & Su, J. (2012). The statistics of English in China: An analysis of the best available data from government sources. English Today, 28(3), 10–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Xiang, Z., & Gretzel, U. (2010). Role of social media in online travel information search. Tourism Management, 31(2), 179–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhou, M. (2014). Gender difference in web search perceptions and behaviour: Does it vary by task performance? Computers & Education, 78(1), 174–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HRSMUniversity of DerbyDerbyUK
  2. 2.Manchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations